Did you know that the 12 Days of Christmas are traditionally celebrated from December 26 - January 1? And, have you ever wondered how the song The 12 Days of Christmas came to be?
I still can remember singing this song in public school when I was a child, with all the wild props like a fake pear tree w/ a pretend bird clipped to it. Like a lot of kids, I loved the tune, probably because it was silly on top of all the outrageous visual associations to go along with it. I mean how many of us have ever really seen seven swans-a-swimming in December? I thought they migrated to the south for the winter. Illustration from Arch Angel Institute
Though I don't celebrate Christmas myself, I was curious about the song, so I decided to do a little research. First, I read some of the false claims circulating on the Internet as to where this song is thought to have come from, then I found a reliable source which I confirmed on Snopes.com and is according to Phil Hamilton, who checked it out with the Austin (Texas) Public Library research department. In the book Twelve Days of Christmas: A Celebration and History, by Leigh Grant, it says the words to this humorous melody appeared for the first time in another book Mirth Without Mischief (published 1780-1783 in England) that describes the song as a "memory and forfeits game" played by children. The game worked like this: the leader recited the first verse, then the next kid said the second verse, the next child, the third, and so on, through the 12 verses, until someone missed his/her verse and had to pay sort of game "penalty."
The Twelve Days of Christmas song then became popular at Twelfth-Night Parties during the Christmas holidays. Today, it is considered among the favorite Christmas carols sung by children and adults a like. More information on the various rumors, as well as the truth about the origins of this curious song can be found here
Now, enjoy this 2009 MommyBlogExpert Gift Showcase inspired by that zany song!
Twelve Days of Christmas Heirloom Box Set, $70/12 Boxes, Twelve Days. Includes 12 beautiful hanging gift boxes in a warm silver hue along with an illustrated booklet on the history and folklore of the Twelve Days, a helpful gift giver's guide, and everything you need to get started. Since you add the gifts, your completed gift set will be uniquely personal. Available online from TwelveDays.com
12 Days of Christmas Gourmet Candy Apples, $129.95 , Mrs. Prindables. 12 days of Christmas with 12 unique Nutcracker keepsake ornaments. Includes 4 Triple Chocolate Petite Apples, 4 Milk Chocolate Walnut Petite Apples and 4 Milk Chocolate Toffee Walnut Petite Apples. Net Wt. Approx. 6.4 lbs. Hurry and order now before they sell out. Available online exclusively from MrsPrindables.com
Angels-A Pop Up Book, $30, by Chuck Fischer, is an exquisite, but delicate, pop up book that art loving adults and angel enthusiasts alike will appreciate, but that older children can enjoy, too, under a parent's watchful eye. With gilded and brightly colored page layouts of Fischer's original art inspired by art history and paper engineered by collaborator Bruce Foster, the angels in this book literally rise off its flat pages, appearing almost as if soaring toward heaven. View the video to see the dramatic pop up action in this book here. New in October 2009, by Hachette Book Group . Available nationwide.
These wonderful 12 Days of Christmas themed gift ideas and the Angels pop up book are just the tip of the iceberg of real finds this season. Keep reading this post to see the rest of MommyBlogExpert's picks for the best of this year's Christmas gift ideas for everyone on your list.
A Gift of Peace for Everyone
Peace Symbol Wreath from New England, 18"/$34.95, 24"/$44.95, Gardeners of Vermont. This very green and fresh Balsam Fir wreath, which was recently reviewed in depth by MommyBlogExpert here is even more beautiful than this picture. Available in two sizes, this would be an unforgettable gift to ship ahead now to your hosts this holiday season. Shipped to most U.S. states (some exceptions, so see their site for delivery restrictions). Available from Gardeners.com
For the Sporty, Active Family
Bicycle Rack for 4 Bicycles, $279.95 suggested price, Road Runner by Hollywood Racks . One of the top selling and best designed rack systems on the market today, this heavy duty equipment looks extremely sturdy. Watch for an in depth product review on the HR400 - 4 bike rack with 2” fixed hitch (pictured) that Hollywood Racks recently sent MommyBlogExpert's family to test and review shortly. Available nationwide in specialty shops, find the store nearest you here
Scrumptious Ideas for Foodies
Candy Cane Truffles Gift Box, $24.95, Fairytale Brownies, are actually peppermint brownies enrobed in 60% dark chocolate, sprinkled with candy cane bits in a gift box with red bow. I have personally been a Fairytale customer for years and in fact just bought several brownie gift sets to be direct shipped as holiday gifts to some members of my family. I haven't sampled this particular truffles item myself yet, but I did recently taste and review several other Fairytale specialty brownies on MommyBlogExpert here. Available online exclusively from Fairytale Brownies
Frugal Foodie Cookbook, $15.95, by Lara Starr with Lynette Shirk, is not a cookbook in the traditional sense. In the down economy America is now trudging through, many of us are looking to drastically reduce even our essential expenses, such as grocery bills. By following just a few of the many thrifty food ideas you'll find inside, such as roasting your own coffee and entertaining friends for a party at home made with drinks & foods easily made from scratch, there's a chance you might easily re coop the cost of this title. From Viva Editions
Lone Cone Toffee, 1 lb/$21, 2 lbs/$36, made in small batches using a 75-year old recipe with only the purest all-natural ingredients which means no preservatives or additives. Based on the samples I received from Lone Cone, these toffees (Original Butter Almond, Peanut, and Coffee flavors) were packaged well and tasted rich and fresh, like home made. I'd be hard-pressed to pick a favorite since everything was excellent, but if you forced me to choose I'd say Lone Cone Coffee Toffee would be the perfect gift for that java lover on your list. Available online at LoneConeToffee.com . Watch for details about a giveaway of some samples of these toffee on MommyBlogExpert's holiday sweepstakes soon.
Gifts for Body, Mind & Soul
The 90-Second Fitness Solution, $16, by Pete Cerqua with Alisa Bowman now in paperback, quite possibly could be the answer to us women who are so busy with work and/or family that we don't have time to even think about going to the gym. With all the eating, drinking, and relaxing during the holidays, I'm looking forward to trying this book out for myself right now, to head off any holiday weight gain. Doing short 90-second sets along with the simple meal plan in this book, this program might work for me and my mommy blogging lifestyle. From Atria Books/Simon & Schuster. Available nationwide in bookstores and online. Watch for a full book review later after I've tried this out for several months.
Beauty's Secret: A Girls Discovery of Inner Beauty, $17.95, by Debra Gano, is about shaping young girls, age 7 - 14, from the inside out and is focused building the self esteem necessary for girls to successfully navigate the difficult teen years. A wonderful gift to give a girl in that age range. Available direct from Heartlight Girls
Living Life as a Thank You, $15.95, by Nina Lesowitz and Mary Beth Sammons, is a self-help and inspirational book that is in tune with the holiday spirit that we all wish would be carried out throughout the rest of the year. From chapters such as: Staying Thankful in Difficult Times, to Finding Grace and Wisdom in Goodbyes, to Putting Gratitude Into Action, this book is guide to living life built on a solid base of thankfulness and appreciation. From Viva Editions. Available nationwide in bookstores and online.
Money Habitudes For Teens, $14.95, is a card game that incorporates contemporary graphics and teen-friendly language to provide teens with a hands-on activity to begin to talk about effective money management and how to make the right financial decisions. The game can be used in a family setting, in the classroom, or in discussion groups as a stand-alone activity or in conjunction with high school courses such as financial literacy and life skills. Available online direct from Money Habitudes. Watch MommyBlogExpert for an in depth product review of this item once our own family has tried it out.
Your Present: A Half-Hour of Peace, $14.95, from Relax Intuit, makes it possible for you to give the gift of a 30 minute audio CD by national mind-body stress-relief facilitator Susie Mantell that has the potential to relax the recipient whenever they listen to it, whether a beginner or seasoned meditator. And, according to the company's website, this Publishers Weekly Award Winner for Best Audios may also help soothe sleepnessness, depression, and grief too. Who doesn't need a half a hour of peace during the hectic holiday season? Available from Relax Intuit.com.
The Daughter In Law Rules, $14.95, by Sally Shields, this Amazon best-selling pink paperback includes 101 ways to befriend your Mother-In-Law. But, the book isn't just for the engaged and newlywed, as there is advice on how to be politically correct that reaches beyond the early years to help women maintain good relationships with their MILs as they become pregnant with the first child and as additional children join the family. Better you should buy this book for yourself first before the first sign of trouble and read it (and get your DH to read it too). If you're mother-in-law buys you a copy before that, don't take offense and read it before you send her a heartfelt thank you note. Available as an e-book direct from The Daughter In Law Rules or as a paperback on Amazon.com
For Hard-to-Shop-For Teen Boys & Men
The Marriage Manual, $19.95, by BJ & Laurie Woodard, is another book couples should read that gives valuable advice on how to build a foundation that supports a fulfilling and lasting marriage for both of you. There's sections for guys and gals and among other things, you'll both learn about the bad habits couples almost always fall into and some easy ideas to identify and change these behaviors. Available direct from The Marriage Manual . Watch for details about a giveaway of this book in MommyBlogExpert's holiday sweepstakes soon.
On the Job Hand Products, $5.99 - $8.99/individually or $18.97/winter special for set of all 3, are practical stocking stuffers that men are sure to appreciate who consider their hands among their most valuable assets -- whether at work, doing fix-it jobs or yard work at home, or while enjoying such manual-focused hobbies such as car repair and woodworking. On the Job Lotion does triple duty to not only prevent infection but serves as a first aid antiseptic as well as to moisturize, while On the Job Cleaner removes grease and grime without water or an abrasive such as pumice stone. Completing the trio's line is On the Job Armor, which forms a protective polymer "glove" to protect against harsh conditions involved in tasks such as painting, gardening, and woodworking, while also promoting healing and prevention of further damage often associated with labor-related hand problems. From Wharton Innovative Products, sold in select retail stores and available online direct from OntheJob.com
Ear Force XLC Stereo Game Headset For XBox 360, $29.95, from Turtle Beach, this multi-pivot swivel model that's new this year, works for the Xbox 360 and really keeps noise in check for those of us (me, and other moms like me, in particular) who have kids who are into electronic gaming. Includes Xbox Live Chat, too. Just think, the boys (both the kid-variety and grown up types) can concentrate better and play their games all night long with this, if they want, and not annoy anyone who isn't an Xbox enthusiast. Available direct from TurtleBeach.com and nationwide at major retailers
Grinch Men's Christmas Tie, $19.95, Dr. Seuss is all dressed up for Christmas. Potentially a real ice breaker at any holiday party, this is such a novelty that he'll likely wear it again next holiday season and in years to come. Available online direct from ABC Neckties. Enter to WIN this tie here in Mommy Blog Expert's Sweepstakes, now through January 11, 2010
Honestech Fotobox Plus, $79.95, is a NEW easy to use portable USB device for multimedia slideshow creation from Honestech. Compatible with Windows 7, no software needs to be installed and the user can choose to work in easy mode (for newbies) and advanced mode (for customization) to efficiently convert a slideshow to DVD or other formats such as iPod and YouTube. Watch for an indepth product review of this item after my 14 year-old son has tested it. Available direct from Honest Technology and at major retailers nationwide .
Bear Portraits, $26.99, by Jill Greenberg, is a book by a talented advertising photographer who captured wild beasts like these for a major Animal Planet ad campaign. A good choice of a coffee table book for both avid outdoorsmen and those guys who are National Geographic - style easy chair animal enthusiasts . At first glance flipping through the pages, many portraits might appear unreal, as in bears that have visited the taxidermist. However, what is shocking after looking at this in more depth, is that these extremely expressive bears were photographed alive and up close, with the help of animal trainers and Greenberg's wizardry with cameras and lighting. Having seen plenty of stuffed bears in museums, as well as also encountering several black bears and one grizzly on three hair-raising hikes in the wild myself, I can assure you that Greenberg's images definitely capture the real thing. Published by Hachette Book Group. Available nationwide. Watch for MommyBlogExpert to add this item to the other prizes to be given away here through January 11, 2010.
BackFlip Kickstand for the Latest Generation of iPhone, $29.95, is the only soft case for the iPhone 3G and 3GS that comes with a kickstand built in. Very handy because the kickstand works for both vertical and horizontal orientations, so whether he's watching a business webinar or a movie to unwind in between meetings this gadget has got him covered. Strong enough to use while the touchscreen is standing, not just when viewing. Order by December 23 for free shipping. From Evolution Designs and available online at BackFlipCase.com
For the Environmentally Inclined
Small Eco-Chic Backpack in MultiColor, $74, is a small, one strapped very lady like backpack with side zipper that is so beautiful it can also be used as a handbag. It's hard to believe this bag is hand woven using recycled juice packs. Size 15" by 10" by 4" with strap drop length 31" to 36.5" Multi-colored with black trim and lining style as pictured. Available online direct from Rebagz
I'm Dreaming of a Green Christmas, $24.95, by Anna Getty, is not only a craft book to make things using natural and recycled materials, like the Tea Bag Christmas Ornaments. It's also filled with ideas on how to save energy at home plus a list of resources for living greener. Available online direct from the publisher Chronicle Books and nationwide in bookstores and on the Internet.
Stylish Fold Up Reusable Shopping Bag, $8.95-$9.95/1 bag; $39.95-$44.95/5 bags, by Goody Green Bag. Comes in lots of fun prints such as the Dottie Uno style in chocolate brown with pink dots shown here in two handy foldable sizes with velcro closures: Uno - 18.5" x 15" x 2.75" and Due - 16" x 18" x 6", both with 24" handles. Reusable bags that can handle up to 30 pounds in weight don't have to be drab -- read more about what makes these bags in trendy patterns so special here. Available online from Goody Green Bag and in select stores in the U.S. Win this item in MommyBlogExpert's Giveaway Sweepstakes here through January 11, 2010.
Eco Friendly Christmas Bouquet, $75, is made to order with pine cones and twigs, accented with ribbon and berries. This 10" x 18" outdoorsy arrangement with natural stick vase will last long after the holidays and into the new year. Available direct from the artist at gpurse.com
Special Touches for the Home
Christmas Cookie Home Fragrance, $5, by V'Tae, is a 3 oz non-aerosol pump bottle which smells just like grandmas's house when she's baking Christmas cookies. Who wouldn't want this home fragrance permeating every room (and maybe even the car) this holiday season? Available at Nimli.com which is also having a great end of season sale right now. WIN this item ENTER MommyBlogExpert 's GIVEAWAY now HERE through January 11, 2010.
Watch for an in depth product review soon about the various Glade candle collections on the market now and all year long. Watch for MommyBlogExpert to soon add a few Glade products to the other prizes being given away during the Holiday Contest here through January 11, 2010.
Feminine Gifts for Teen Girls & Women
Cocoa Cane Sugar Preserve Body Scrub, $10-$20, is Fair Trade Certified and comes in sizes ranging from in size from 3 to 12 ounces. Of all the natural ingredients it is made with, the cocoa, coffee, and brown sugar aromas stood out the most when I smelled the sample I received and I look forward to trying this out. Also available in Grapefruit Shower Scrub, pictured here. Fair Trade Certified means that a fair price has been paid to farmers for the produce needed to make these scrubs which come in your choice of recyclable PET plastic containers or hinged reusable jars. Available online from Generationsspa.com , a company known for its natural body care products.
Customized Sterling Silver Christmas Bracelet, $53.51, Charm Factory bracelet with charms as shown, incl shipping. Choose to have this made exactly as shown or design your own with any of this company's 100s of other unique charms. Charms also sold individually for less than $5 each. Available directly from the CharmFactory.com . Win this bracelet or one of the other prizes MommyBlogExpert is giving away NOW by entering this contest here through January 11, 2010.
Poule de Luxe Vanilla Pom d'Amour, $18, made in France smells delicious. Though this lip stick sized solid fragrance isn't edible, she will enjoy how she smells when she wears this instead of perfume. It's not a liquid, so it's especially handy because she can pop this in her carry on flight bag. WIN one of 3 Poule de Luxe Solid Fragrances to be given away by entering MommyBlogExpert's Holiday Sweepstakes here now through January 11, 2010. From Crazy Libellule and the Poppies, France. Available in the U.S. at Sephora
GlamBags Luxe Reusable Travel Bags, $9.95/18 qt bags, from kikic.com, will have the lady security screeners at the airport asking you where you got these so they can buy them for themselves. Initially offered in the perky hot pink/lime green pattern you see here, these come in a coordinated box perfect for gift giving. What a refreshing alternative to going through airport checkpoints with plain old see-through small plastic bags. They are so cute and handy for travel and have a variety of other uses, too, such as for goody bags, for kid crayon storage, and for everything else you need to have organized when you travel and when you stay home. New sizes (mini, gallon, and garment bag sizes) and patterns to be announced soon. Available exclusively online from kikic.com
YoYo Retractable LipGloss Mini, $2.99, is a really cool sparkling lip gloss that will always be accessible thanks to its retractable 2-1/2 foot long cord, whether hanging from a jeans' pocket, school bag, or grownup women's handbag. This great gift or stocking stuffer comes in four fun, fab flavors -- Kissable Kiwi, Girly Green Apple, Cha-Cha Chocolate, and Big Bounce Bubblegum (pictured). From YOYO LipGloss , at select retailers nationwide and at yoyolipgloss.com
Treats for Grandma and Grandpa
Kindle 2 Slip Case and Camera Travel Case, $27-$39, from Waterfield Designs, are two specially-designed cases meant to protect Grandma's new Kindle 2 and Grandpa's new digital camera. Made in San Francisco with superior workmanship and attention to detail is what makes both of these items stand apart from the others and well worth the price. The Kindle 2 Slip Vertical Case shown is well-padded for everyday use, measures 5.4" x 8.3" x 0.4" and is also available in a horizontal style, but either way this gift comes in the choice of the colors pictured. Watch for MommyBlogExpert to soon add this item to the other prizes being given away during the Holiday Contest here through January 11, 2010.
A Life Well Read, $29.95 , offers the recipient a "personal journey through books." This unique gift for book lovers includes a beautiful keepsake storage box filled with everything needed to keep track of their beloved books: those lent out, those with favorite quotes, those to be re-read, or titles to be given as gifts. From D&D Creations. Available direct online from A Life Well Read. Win this item in MommyBlogExpert 's Contest here through January 11, 2010.
Bookswim.com, $9.95/month, is another good gift idea. It is the only hardcover and best seller book rental subscription service available today offering both hardcover and best seller loans. Billed as a "Netflix-style" program for book rentals, members can easily borrow books and have them shipped directly to them. I think this might have special appeal to ill or older people as well as those who are not able to physically to get to the library or a bookstore to hang out and read.
CEIVA Pro 80 Digital Photo Frame, $179, is another thoughtful gift for grandparents. It comes with 1-year PicturePlan photo delivery service included. This is a great way for you to send photos of you and the grand kids over the Internet directly to them to view on this digital photo frame. The best part is no computer is required at their end to receive pictures. No technical knowledge is required either, for them to use this once you help them set it up -- since photos can delivered to this nifty gadget wirelessly or over a regular phone line. Available online at The CEIVA Store and at select retail store chains such as Best Buy and Samy's Camera. WIN one free, by entering MommyBlogExpert Giveaway through January 11, 2010.
Is This Thing On?, $15.95, by Abby Stokes, is yet another gift for the technologically challenged that grandparents might appreciate. As the press release about this book points out, fewer than 31% of seniors 65+ have ever been online and almost one-third of baby boomers (now age 50 - 64) have never surfed the Internet. This book is written to fill the needs of newbie extraordinaires who did not grow up with computers and helps readers do things many of us take for granted such as how to choose and set up a computer at home, how to sign up for Internet access and receive and send email, and how to do a Google search. From Workman Publishing Company. Available direct from the publisher and nationwide. Watch for an in depth review on this book soon.
For Internet Mommies
The Internet Mommy, $12.95, by Kimberley Clayton Blaine, is a good read that any mother who has an Internet-based business or is a blogger might relate to. A series of essays are shared, both funny and serious, in this book written by Kimberley and more than a dozen of the most successful moms with an Internet presence today. My daughter and I were thrilled to have the chance to meet the author at the book launch in October 2009. Available on Amazon here. Learn more about this talented author at The Internet Mommy . Watch for an in depth book review soon.
See Mom Run, $12.95, by Beth Feldman, appeals to an even wider audience of women with funny essays written by and for the most harried moms on the planet. Included are a collection of stories, many which will make you laugh, gathered by Beth, founder of RoleMommy.com. The vignettes featured are written by some incredibly talented women, including authors, mom bloggers, TV producers, parenting experts, entrepreneurs, and even a retired senator. Available nationwide in bookstores, on Amazon, and direct from See Mom Run. Watch for an in depth book review on this blog later.
Vintage-Look Christmas Handmade Gift Tags, $2/10 tags, are just the touch you need to accent all the presents you will probably be wrapping. In addition to the hand-stamped tags shown here, this company makes hand stamped holiday stickers, one-of-a-kind gift tags and offers digital downloads of collages made from old greeting cards. Available online direct from Petite Paperie.
There are so many great choices this year for youngsters that there's a separate Mommy Blog Expert gift showcase post featuring best of ideas for kids so see the Best of Christmas Gift Ideas Just For Kids here
Don't forget to enter MommyBlogExpert's Giveaway Sweepstakes to win lots of family friendly items many of which have been reviewed here and elsewhere on this blog, now through January 11, 2010 - ENTER DAILY to win